No matter how skilled you are at slapping together a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, packing your child’s lunch every day can be really draining.
Now some parents in Miami-Dade County can pay someone else to do the deed.
Kids Deli is a school delivery service that brings customized lunches right to the participating school or summer camp. Parents simply go online at the company’s site, www.kidsdeli.com, select from one of 16 main courses, 10 sides and seven beverages, choose a period of delivery (such as weekly, various days or school year) and the lunches are prepared, boxed and delivered fresh to the school.
Unlike catering companies that work with private schools, Kids Deli lunches are customized based on an individual child’s tastes and health requirements. The easy-to-open lunch boxes, with a colorful logo, are clearly marked with the child’s name, the contents, and any special allergy alerts before they are loaded into a van every weekday morning.
A quarter of the parents who use the service add personalized notes to the lunch that remind little ones to attend gym after school or that old, affectionate standby, XXOO.
Kids Deli co-owner Dan Kaplan partners with Shelly Werner, her son Brett and executive chef Pedro Rosado for the delivery business.
For busy parents like Jody Olson, Kids Deli has become a godsend. Olson has two children at The Cushman School in Miami: Bella, 4, and Ashlyn, 9.
“I’m a single mom and widow and work full-time. I’m a small business owner myself. The biggest stress every day was warming up lunches and making sure the thermos was full,” Olson said. “This alleviates a lot of stress. My kids won’t eat sandwiches for lunch, they want a hot meal.”
Tina Heffernan, Cushman’s summer camp director and a fourth-grade math and science teacher during the school year, accepts the Kids Deli deliveries in her office every morning and distributes the cartons to students during lunch period. The program’s a hit at her school, which lacks a full-service cafeteria.
“I like everything about it,” she said. “Their lunches are appealing to the kids and we’re adding names to the list each week … The kids see what the other kids have ordered and say, ‘I want that’ and have encouraged mom to go online and order it. Kids Deli is very efficient and it works well for parents who want that convenience.”
Kids Deli items include the usual kids’ favorites, such as macaroni and cheese, hamburgers and popcorn chicken tenders, notes Rosado who can be found every weekday morning behind the grill flipping and seasoning burgers, chicken breasts and hot dogs at Roasters ‘n Toasters in Pinecrest. This location is ground zero from which two to three drivers on any given day take off in company vehicles after packing the cardboard lunch boxes to make the rounds to Cushman in North Dade, the Alexander Montessori campuses in South Dade and other schools, including McGlannan, Roig Academy, Children’s Resources and Pinewood Acres.
When the owners came on board two years ago, Kids Deli averaged about 120 meals at a handful of private schools in Miami-Dade. (The company doesn’t provide service to public schools, which usually have in-house cafeterias.) Today, Kaplan and Brett Werner estimate Kids Deli delivers 600 to 700 lunches a week during the school year and provides its service to about seven summer camps, including thousands of lunches over a two week period to the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corp camp in Davie’s Camp Seminole.